Thursday, May 17, 2012

To get my attention--Ride a Bull

Of all the random things I've ever posted, this is the randiomist. When I take Giuliana to ballet in Heidelberg I spend my time doing different things.  I read, sometimes I hit the commissary but mostly I spend my time at the gym on a treadmill doing my 4 miles.  At the gym in Heidelberg they have big TV's set up around the room but I can never hear the TV's because the machines are too loud.  The gym at Ramstein is wired so that all you have to do is plug in your earphones to the machine you are using and you can hear whatever they are showing on the TV's in front of you.  The gym at Heidelberg is not wired like that you and just have to turn up the sound to blasting if you want to have any chance of hearing what is going on.  There are several TV's on different channels throughout the room that are turned up to blasting making it hard to hear anything. That's why I always bring my Ipod to listen to while I exercise.  Yesterday I found myself at the Heidelberg gym and brought my Ipod and started in on my 4 miles.  There was an exercise show on the TV to the left of me and some kind of travel show on to the right of me--both snoozers.  It didn't matter as I was enjoying the music I was listening to.  About 20 minutes into my routine, I looked up and saw the tv on my right was now featuring bull riding.  I must admit, I've always been mesmerized by bull riding.  I couldn't take my eyes off the TV which at times caused me to bobble a bit on the treadmill.  I didn't need to hear the commentary, my eyes were stuck on watching this unbelievable heart pounding display of man vs. beast.  Bull riding is a mystery to me.  As I watched this show I found myself asking all sorts of questions in my head like, "Who thought it would be a good idea to ride a bull?  Who was the first person to even attempt this feat?  Why is there a rope tied around the bulls flank?  Where are all the barrels that the rodeo clowns used to escape to from a raging bull?  When did bull riders start wearing helmets? Why do the bulls feel the need to be constantly bucking, twisting and turning? How do they score the riders?"  These are just a few of the questions I found myself asking without taking my eyes off the TV.  Now I have only been to one rodeo in my entire life and that was in Colorado.  Colorado boasts that they were the first to hold a rodeo in the USA sometime in the late 1800's.  Wyoming boasts that they were the first.  Who knows, all I know is I find them quite interesting.  As I watched each Bull rider mount the bull I took notice of some of the names of the bulls flashed on the screen.  Names like Bushwacker, Perfect Poison, Bad Blake and High Steaks are just a sample of scary bull names.  Just the names would instill fear in me.  Nonetheless these guys would mount the bull in these small little pens and as they are wrapping a rope around their hands you could already see the bull was agitated and trying to buck the rider off.  Sometimes there would be 4 or 5 men trying to keep the rider stable in the pen while he readied himself for the ride of his life.  With a simple nod of the cowboys head the pen door would open and that bull who can weigh up to 2000 lbs exerts all his energy into getting that cowboy off his back. That bull twists, bucks turns and can leap up to 6 feet into the air.  At times it looked like the bull was doing a cartwheel or would almost look cartoonish when he would buck his hind legs up and it would appear that his front legs were doing little baby steps in front.  Did you know that a bull can lift 1300 lbs with just his neck muscles?  The goal of the cowboy is to stay on for 8 seconds. As I watched I found myself letting out little noises and gasps because I just can't believe people do this willingly and it was so scary.   Because I was so mesmerized my workout took a hit.  I found myself holding on to the treadmill the majority of the time and  slowing down so I could watch  without flying off the treadmill.  I came home that evening and looked up the history of bull riding and found some of the answers to my questions but not all..  I did find out that bull riding got it's roots in Mexico in the 1600's.  It was kind of like a bull riding/bull fighting activity.  Bull riding did not really appear in rodeos however until the 1930's.  The bull will twist and turn and buck because they truly want to get the rider off it's back.  Someone discovered that when you tie a rope around the bulls flank he will buck up it encourages hind leg bucking.   There are still barrels that a clown can jump into for protection (usually 1 or 2) but their job is really to protect the cowboy.  They work in pairs trying to distract the bull so they can free a rider or protect him if he's been thrown off.  As I watched this show I was just as interested in watching the clowns or bullfighters as they are now called.  Sometimes, in order to free a rider, one of the clowns has to go right up next to the bulls head while another clown tries to free the cowboy.  It's amazing that they can survive these incredible hulks. As far as the scoring judges score the bull first as far as difficulty, then they score the rider.  Some bulls have a 100% buck off rate.  A Bull named Bushwacker and High Steaks have this rate. I won't bore you with the rest of the details I learned, but it is a fasinating sport.  It's also the sport that has the highest rate of injury of all the rodeo sports.    So now you know if you really ever want to get my full undivided attention, all you have to do is ride a bull!  Here are a few videos featuring Bushwacker-the bull who has a 100% buck off rate.
 And here's the guy that almost succeeded in bringing Bushwacker down--almost is the key word here.

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